OFSC Delivers Strong Snowmobiling Season Despite Challenges

Season Peak of 26,000 Kms of Available OFSC Trails Reached on February 25, 2021

(Barrie, ON: March 31, 2021) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) extends sincerest appreciation to our 6,000 volunteers, whose trail-building expertise and operational dedication are the grassroots backbone of our local snowmobile clubs across Ontario. Despite facing unprecedented and continually evolving challenges, their volunteer efforts, cooperation and determination during the past season helped achieved the commitment we made to snowmobilers in our Trails To Ride 2021 plan – to deliver the best possible trail riding experiences.

“I want to commend everyone on Team OFSC for our collective achievements this winter,” commented CEO Landon French, “from volunteers to landowners to stakeholders, and to staff who helped steer us through uncharted territory this year.”

In addition, the OFSC wants to thank each and every permit buyer for your patience and understanding through the season. We really appreciate your support of OFSC trails and your willingness to adapt to local riding this winter and for taking the necessary precautions. Certainly, if the positive, post-season feedback from snowmobilers on social media is any indicator, many of you agree that this season was a success story given the circumstances. And what a story it was…

Challenge: From the outset, the OFSC realized that living up to our commitment to deliver a great season would require walking a fine line between the expectations of our districts, clubs, volunteers, landowners and permit holders, and the changing pandemic requirements from various public health authorities. Overall, the season came off well with record permits sold.

Trails Report: We are pleased to report that first available OFSC trails showed Yellow or Green on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) as early as December 14, 2020. With Old Man Winter’s cooperation, we had more than 13,000 kilometres of trails available in 15 districts by January 25, 2021. From that date through March 8, 2021, we had an average of 20,045 kilometres of OFSC trails available, including over 22,000 for the Family Day Long Weekend, and topping out at a peak of 26,000 kilometres on February 25, 2021. The last trails closed for the season on March 22, 2021. Fortunately, in a season with many atypical travel restrictions, trail availability was relatively close to home for many riders in most OFSC districts.

Unfortunately, some pandemic restrictions were frustrating for those who live in public health regions that do not have any OFSC trails or in regions where trails were closed for a period of time. After sharing such an abnormal season, we empathize with those who were not able to ride as they normally would and join you in looking ahead to a better season next year.

As everyone knows, the sole exception was the North Bay Parry Sound area, where their public health unit unexpectedly closed OFSC trails to snowmobilers on January 21, 2021. We did, however, score a small win by being able to continue trail maintenance and grooming operations, without which our trails could not have re-opened quickly when the ban was lifted on February 22, 2021. We had worked diligently behind the scenes to get this trails closure rescinded as early as possible.

So how did we avoid an imposed province-wide shutdown of OFSC trails at any time during the season? It was the result of great teamwork, creative innovation and flexible planning. Here are several examples:

Outreach: Throughout the fall, the OFSC consulted with a variety of agencies, stakeholders and other recreational groups to gain knowledge and insight into their pandemic experiences and ideas. All season, we carefully monitored public health developments and changes, tailoring our pandemic response protocols to meet all new recommendations and expectations.

Health & Safety: In cooperation with Workplace Safety North, the OFSC announced our own health and safety protocols to help ensure our clubs and volunteers were able to work smart and safe throughout the season. Throughout the fall, our District Health & Safety Coordinators delivered this training to clubs and volunteers. Next, we implemented Ride Smart 2021, our common sense approach to help snowmobilers do their part to avoid community spread and keep trails open, which also made “snowcial distancing” part of our sledding jargon for 2021.

Communications: We also initiated a comprehensive communications plan to keep snowmobilers up to date about developments through a total of 35 weekly newsletters commencing August 11. For example, one communiqué emphasized the proven physical and mental health benefits of snowmobiling, while other releases explained changing public health measures applicable to OFSC trails and how to comply with them. Our releases also served the important purpose of building and maintaining credibility for, and confidence in, organized snowmobiling with the various authorities and agencies charged with overseeing pandemic response across Ontario.

Recognition: We were quickly recognized by government, public health and industry stakeholders for our progressive leadership in keeping recreational snowmobiling on the “approved recreational activities” list. In fact, thanks to our Flex Trails option and local riding opportunities, OFSC trail riding stood out among other leading winter recreational choices for being allowed to remain open throughout the entire winter.

So let’s give one another a large pat on the back for a job well done – and start dreaming about great trail riding next winter!

 


 

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

OFSC Provides Final Update For Snowmobile Trail System and Interactive Trail Guide

(Barrie, ON: March 25, 2021) – During this OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is confirming that there are now no OFSC Prescribed trails available for snowmobiling anywhere in Ontario. All of our more than 30,000 kilometres of trails are showing RED on the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG), meaning that the entire provincial trail system is now shut down for the season, thereby ending safe and legal snowmobile trail riding opportunities in every OFSC district until next winter. Meanwhile, we join the Ontario Provincial Police and other police services in warning snowmobilers to stay off any ice, which is disappearing rapidly now that Spring has officially arrived.

Out of respect for our landowners and to protect private property, crops and livestock from off-season trespass by other trail motorized users, the ITG will go offline effective March 26, 2021 until November 2021. Our Go Snowmobiling Apps will not show OFSC trails until December 1, 2021, while your subscription to PRO remains valid for 12 months from your date of upgrade purchase.

The OFSC cautions all motorized trail users that OFSC Prescribed Trails on private property are for winter use only by snowmobiles displaying valid Snowmobile Trail Permits. Illegally entering any of these OFSC snowmobile trails in the off-season is not only dangerous, it is also a chargeable act of trespass under Ontario law, so please respect our landowners and stay off.

The OFSC thanks our landowners and club volunteers for making trail riding as enjoyable and safe as possible this past winter, and we look forward to welcoming permit holders back to our trails as they become available for snowmobiling again next season.

 


 

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

OFSC Announces Landowner Appreciation Week with New Recognition Initiatives

March 22 – 28 Proclaimed OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021

(Barrie, ON: March 18, 2021) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has declared the week of March 22 – 28 as OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021. Across the province, landowners are the unsung contributors to organized snowmobiling who donate the use of a portion of their private property for snowmobile trails each winter. Their land not only provides OFSC snowmobilers with safe and legal places to ride, but also connects thousands of sections of disparate trails into an integrated, seamless trail network. In addition, private land provides connections to hundreds of rural winter communities for their recreational, social and economic well-being in our traditionally most dormant season.

Without our more than 18,000 generous landowners, trail riders could not enjoy recreational snowmobiling as we know and enjoy it today. So it’s entirely appropriate that we celebrate OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021 as the opportunity for snowmobile clubs, club volunteers, snowmobilers and snowbelt communities to offer every landowner our heartfelt gratitude for the use of their property during this unprecedented and uncertain winter.

 

Save Our Trails: In preparation for OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, we recently launched several key provincial anti-trespass initiatives. One is an ongoing Save Our Trails call to action. It targets making off-trail trespass as socially unacceptable within the snowmobile community as drinking and driving, driving without a seatbelt, or smoking in the workplace are in our society today. Save Our Trails asks individual snowmobilers to support our landowners by spreading the word about responsible behaviour on private property to family and friends, on their social media, and by embracing the behaviour we advocate in the OFSC’s “Friends Don’t Ride With Friends Who Trespass” message.

OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct: A second recently introduced initiative is the new OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct, the first of its kind developed in North America. The Trail Rider Code of Conduct emphasizes that land use permission is a privilege not a right. It’s a privilege that must be respected and defended by every trail rider adopting the ten responsible behaviours for riding on private property outlined in the Code.

Landowner Radio PSA: In its third key initiative for OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, we have worked with Skywords Media to develop a radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) to recognize and thank landowners province-wide. The PSA recalls that landowners providing land use for snowmobile trails is a rural tradition that goes back more than 50 years, and extends heartfelt appreciation to each private property owner for making winter safer and more enjoyable.

To coincide with OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021, the PSA is being broadcast on more than 70 participating radio stations until the end of March, and the OFSC is also promoting it through an extensive social media campaign.

OFSC Landowner Appreciation Week 2021 marks the wind-down of the 2020-21 snowmobiling season. But stay tuned, because it’s also the precursor to an ambitious Stay On The Trail/Anti-Trespass Campaign to support our landowners already being planned by the OFSC for launch next fall.

 


 

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

OFSC Reports End of Season Shut Down of Many Farm Country Trails

Snowmobilers Warned To Stay Off Closed Trails Until They Re-Open Next Winter

(Barrie, ON: March 11, 2021) – After delivering some of the best trail riding opportunities in recent memory throughout much of Southern Ontario, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) reports that snowmobile operations are ending for this winter in many of its southern-most districts.

With the trail base deteriorating rapidly from mild and rainy weather this week, many local snowmobile clubs, especially those in predominantly farm country areas, have now closed almost 10,000 kilometres of trails, many for the season. More are expected to shut down soon if early spring-like conditions continue. Other clubs are asking snowmobilers to stay off their trails this weekend, until groomers can roll again next week, so as not to increase existing damage to the fragile snow base.

The OFSC reminds snowmobilers to respect our clubs and landowners by staying off any closed trails, now shown in RED on the OFSC Interactive Trail Guide (ITG). Going on any last rides on trails closed for the season is not only unsafe and illegal, it could jeopardize their re-opening again next year. Please check the ITG next week for any remaining available (GREEN or YELLOW) trail opportunities in other OFSC districts throughout Ontario, and always stay on the marked trail.

With the snowmobile season winding down, the OFSC also cautions all motorized trail users, such as ATV and Side X Side riders, that OFSC trails on private property are for winter use only by snowmobiles. Illegally entering these closed snowmobile trails at any time is a chargeable act of trespass under Ontario law, so please respect our landowners and stay off.

The OFSC thanks our landowners and club volunteers for making trail riding enjoyable and safe this winter.

 


 

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.

For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact  [email protected]

To view more OFSC news and releases: https://mailchi.mp/8620a2cef4df/industry-newsletter-sign-up/

OFSC Asks Snowmobilers To Play Key Role In Anti-Trespass Initiatives

Help Support Our Landowners and Protect OFSC Trails On Private Property

(Barrie, ON: March 4, 2021) – The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is asking all snowmobilers to join us in keeping OFSC trails available to ride every winter. Thanks to 18,000 generous landowners, about 60% of OFSC trails cross private property, providing access to communities and services, as well as connections neighbouring regions, and safer riding for everyone. So each snowmobiler who loves trail riding shares a common goal of protecting our trails on private property, respecting our landowner partners, and maintaining the inter-connected trail system that provides so many positive benefits for rural economies.

All of us have a part to play in preserving snowmobile trails and standing up for our landowners. Together, our goal is to make wandering off the marked trail and trespassing on private property as socially unacceptable within the snowmobile community as drinking and driving, driving without a seatbelt, or smoking in the workplace are throughout our province.

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OFSC Trail Rider Code of Conduct

How To Snowmobile Legally and Safely on Private Property

Every year, generous landowners provide land use permission to local snowmobile clubs for their volunteers to build and maintain an OFSC Prescribed Trail (commonly referred to as “OFSC trail)” on their property. OFSC Prescribed Trails are recognized in Ontario law as the only approved recreational trails for snowmobiles. They allow snowmobiles that are displaying a valid Snowmobile Trail Permit to legally cross the property of these landowners during the winter months on a designated OFSC trail.

This land use permission is a privilege not a right, and must be respected and defended by every trail rider or the OFSC trail may be permanently closed.

Loss of land use permission and trail closures will adversely affect the trail connectivity in Ontario, diminish the recreational enjoyment for riders, and negatively impact the economies of our rural communities that rely on OFSC trails for an important part of their winter business.

Here is the acceptable behaviour expected from every snowmobiler entering an OFSC Prescribed Trail on private property.

1. Always purchase and ride displaying a valid Snowmobile Trail Permit.
Unless you have a valid permit, it is not legal for you to enter any OFSC trail on private property.

2. Always ride between the stakes and never cut corners inside a stake line.
Stakes are installed so you can follow the designated OFSC trail and cross that private property safely. The stake line shows the approved route around the corner to avoid crop damage.

3. Show your respect and appreciation for the private landowners that have allowed you to use a portion of their property for your recreational enjoyment by:

• Never wandering off an OFSC trail to play in the powder.
It’s not only illegal to leave the marked OFSC trail, but deep snow can hide dangerous obstacles. Your track can cause serious compaction damage that freezes dormant but fragile winter crops.

• Not riding with loud pipes.
Not only are aftermarket pipes illegal in Ontario, their loud noise unnecessarily disturbs landowners and livestock.

• Slowing down when passing close to any residence or livestock near an OFSC trail.
Moderating your speed helps minimize any disruption your sled may cause to landowners or local residents.

• Not touching or doing damage to anything on a landowner’s property (equipment, fences, buildings, etc.).
Stay on the marked OFSC trail to avoid any dangerous or damaging encounter with obstacles.
This isn’t your property, so leave everything alone and continue on the marked OFSC trail.

• Always being courteous and polite to landowners and their families, and never assuming any person on the trail doesn’t have a right to be there.
Landowners deserve your respect and appreciation. That pedestrian on the OFSC trail may be the landowner, so show your respect by slowing down and waving as you pass by.

• Carrying any garbage or broken parts like worn belts out with you.
Litter is not only unsightly, some trash can also cause damage to livestock or expensive farm machinery.

4. If you see tracks cut by others who have left the trail, do not follow them.
Just because someone else trespasses off the trail, doesn’t make it right for you to do.

5. Stay off any trail that shows RED on the Interactive Trail Guide (ITG) and/or is marked as closed at the trail. If a gate is closed, the trail is closed. Do not open or go around it to enter the OFSC trail.
The ITG is the sole authorized source of trail status and RED means a trail in not available to ride.
A “closed” sign or other barrier means that you cannot legally enter the property.

6. Don’t cross through rope, tape or snow fencing, and avoid short cuts or detours from the marked OFSC trail. Obey signs warning to stay off sensitive crop areas.
These visual barriers and signs are located in highly sensitive areas to keep sleds from wandering off the OFSC trail. Land use permission defines exactly where the OFSC trail must go and any deviations are illegal trespass. Your track can cause serious compaction damage that freezes fragile winter crops.

7. Don’t ride over the stakes.
Stakes are installed to mark the OFSC trail, so damaging them means others won’t know where to go. Every damaged stake adds to the maintenance cost incurred by your local club from your permit dollars.

8. Avoid entering nearby fields where there are no trails.
Never leave the marked trail when crossing farm fields or ride into other fields.

9. Share the OFSC trail, keep to the right, obey all signs and ride with care & control.
It’s your responsibility to make smart riding choices to keep everyone safe on the marked OFSC trail.

10. Do not ride an ATV on any OFSC trail at any time of year.
OFSC trails are for snowmobile use only in the winter months and ATV’s are not only illegal there, but can also cause serious damage to private property and expensive trail repairs that waste your permit dollars.

Make sure that everyone you snowmobile with reads this Code of Conduct and understands the importance of staying on the marked trail. Together, we can make wandering off the marked trail and trespassing on private property socially unacceptable behaviour within the snowmobile community.